Freezing Patients Back to Life: Fact & Fiction

I recently finished The Curiosity , a fictional narrative about the discovery and “reanimation” of a century old frozen man.  Along the way, the researchers involved in this breakthrough have to grapple with the ethical choices of bringing this man back to life.  Yes, there is a romantic story line too but more often than not, this narrative focuses on the consequences of our decisions and how they affect us and others.

In Pittsburgh, PA, emergency room doctors are trying to save patient lives by replicating The Curiosity’s protagonist freezing process, to a lesser degree.  Only patients who come to the ER with “ ‘catastrophic penetrating trauma’ and who have lost so much blood that they have gone into cardiac arrest” will be eligible for participation in this Department of Defense clinical trial.  Doctors will replace the patient’s blood with freezing saltwater, inducing hypothermia, in the hopes of providing more time to triage wounds and prevent death.

Each time they do, they will be stepping into a scientific void. Ethicists say it’s reasonable to presume most people would want to undergo the experimental procedure when the alternative is almost certain death. But no one can be sure of the outcome.

I wonder about the review these doctors would give The Curiosity.

AMA Code of Medical Ethics (1850) Book Cover (Public Domain) Retrieved from National Library of Medicine Digital Collections

AMA Code of Medical Ethics (1850) Book Cover (Public Domain) Retrieved from National Library of Medicine Digital Collections

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